Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in the UK, something my mother, as a Communist, rejected. She always said she preferred spontaneous, handmade gifts and expressions of affection, rather than what she saw as an artificial event created for commercial reasons. As her birthday was on 16th March, however, we always got to celebrate our mother at around the same time of year anyway. Today is my mother’s day.
I cringe when I think of all the kitchenware we inevitably bought for her on this day. That’s how it was back then, in the 1960s; “something for the kitchen” for your mother’s birthday, “something for the toolshed” for your Dad’s. How she must have sighed inside, behind her delighted smiles, as she was presented with the inevitable egg-timer, Pyrex dish, apron, tea towel, recipe book, etc. If she was disappointed with our gifts of implements to facilitate her daily drudgery on our behalf, she never showed it. For most of my childhood I think her birthday was the one evening of the year when she wasn’t expected to cook for everyone when she got in from work, and could put her tired feet up and be served a dinner cooked (badly) by another family member. Later, when I was 15, I reluctantly started cooking one family meal a week; Dad did the same when he retired at around that time. We should all have done a lot more to help out, and given a lot more of those spontaneous expressions of appreciation that she probably longed for.
Despite Mum’s aversion to the official Mother’s Day, she seems to have been pleased enough with these cards I made her to keep them all her life. They were probably made at school, but I can see plenty of evidence of my childhood obsession with animals and, even then, a startling propensity for bad jokes. The example above bears an illustration of a cat, dog, pony, rabbit, mouse and hamster chasing each other in a circle. Relevance to Mother’s day not in evidence, but maybe that’s what the flowers are for. This one scores points for an attempt at a Mother’s day poem and illustration of a mother cat being brought breakfast in bed by her kitten (and inside, apparently, the gift of a goldfish in a bowl!):
In this one, yellowed with age, I have drawn an illustration of a mother dog and rabbit looking over their puppies and kits playing, in alarm – which is which?
I’m guessing that this one was influenced by the Mitchells-next-door’s dog Tessa having had her puppies, as I would be about the right age then.
I’m really touched that Mum kept these childhood efforts of mine, and moved by the memory of how close we were when I was a child. We never regained that closeness after the ravages of the teenage years, perhaps because I lacked the necessary maternal instinct (or inclination) ever to become a mother myself. I hope there were enough moments like these to balance out all that birthday housewife kit. Sorry about that, Mum. Happy birthday, with love. X